If ever there was a week for the Sharks to streak ahead in this year’s Currie Cup stakes, it’s this coming weekend.
With their usual big rivals hampered by inconsistency and the Free State severely weakened by the Pro14, Robert du Preez’s troops really do have to take advantage.
But they face a potential banana peel in the Pumas on Friday evening, where they’ve struggled in the past.
Western Province need to do the business against the Cheetahs and the Lions’ revival could be short-lived.
Here are the main talking points for the weekend.
Gifted Curwin needs to kick on
There was a small outcry when Curwin Bosch was dropped from the Springboks squad in favour of Handre Pollard last week.
It doesn’t really matter anymore what the merits of that decision was.
What’s important now is how the 20-year-old Sharks playmaker responds.
Arguably this was the right course of action for him from the outset as Bosch’s form has dipped a tad since the middle of the year.
He needs less pressure now, not more.
The Currie Cup should give him that.
Pumas need to enjoy their home comforts
The Currie Cup log is so congested that Brent Janse van Rensburg’s underdogs are actually in with a good shout for a place in the semifinals.
Now, their next two opponents – the Sharks and Western Province – aren’t teams you’d simply expect them to win.
But those matches are at the Mbombela stadium, a place where the Pumas really do lift their game.
Given how some giants have been slayed in this year’s tournament, the Lowvelders surely don’t need motivation to capitalise.
The Lions’ revival might end before it starts
Regardless of the margin, it was job done for the Lions last week after they scraped to a 29-28 win over the Pumas.
As coach Swys de Bruin mentioned, his side had been on an upward curve and merely needed to make sure they start getting results.
In theory then, the Lions should feel a bit unshackled and play like the Lions of old.
But you do get the feeling that there’s still a brittleness as many members are still rather green.
And that’s not a good thing when you travel to Kimberley to face Griquas.
Senior men like Kwagga Smith will really need to step up and lead the men.
A loss will probably end their title ambitions.
Province should be better than they’ve been
For a team that still possess more depth than others, the Streeptruie’s inconsistency in this campaign has been frustrating for fans.
However, following a bye, they should be able to deal with the Cheetahs at Newlands, who really do look on a hiding to nothing.
In fact, if Province really want to challenge the Sharks, they should stop relying on the seesawing form of their opponents and rather write their own destiny.
They have a perfect opportunity to lay a platform for that.